Seven interview mistakes that will lose you the job
You can recover from many things in an interview – being late or even spilling your coffee over the hiring manager won't necessarily lose you the job – but interviewers are less likely to forgive a candidate who asks inane questions, bores them, or makes empty brags.
Here are seven interview mistakes that can see a candidate instantly rejected – and how to avoid it happening to you.
1. You seem moody and you mutter
'You can lose the job in the first minute of the interview by not thinking about your initial impact, warns John Lees, author of a wide range of career books including The Interview Expert. 'Sounding flustered, confused, irritated, being too loud, or inaudible – any of these could lose you the job from the outset.'
Don't underestimate the importance of building rapport with the interviewer as you wait for the lift or walk to the interview room. If you're not great at small talk, practise and get better. Make eye contact and be fully present (stop running over question scenarios in your head) and remember to smile. It can make a big difference, especially when you're nervous.
2. You make empty brags
While interview nerves can make some people shy about their achievements, others get too focused on selling themselves. Top-line statements, "I'm a great sales person" or "I'm a creative maverick" won't impress anyone unless you back it up with evidence.
'You may be the most talented candidate they could possibly hope to employ, but you still need to be able to talk at the interview about lots of real-life examples that show your capabilities, otherwise you are unlikely to convince them,' says Corinne Mills of careers consultancy Personal Career Management and author of Career Coach.
John's advice is to practise talking about what you're good at, so it sounds convincing and effective but not big-headed. When offering evidence, describe the problems you faced, what you did, how you did it, and the final result.
3. You lied – and got found out
Get caught out in a lie – even a minor one – and it can lead to instant rejection.
'Don't be tempted to adjust your employment dates, or exaggerate your contributions or grades,' warns Corinne. 'Any inconsistencies between your CV and LinkedIn profile or the information that you give at interview and you've lost the trust of the interviewer – and no employer is going to hire someone who they think is slippery with the truth.'
4. You slag off your ex-boss
You might want the job to escape your nightmare boss, but don't tell them that.
'Talking negatively about people is never a good idea,' warns Corinne. 'Candidates who slag off their previous boss, or are disparaging about their colleagues or customers are simply emphasising that they have had problematic relationships at work in the past – and that is far from attractive to an employer who wants someone to work well within their team.'
Most industries are smaller than you realise, and someone on the panel might know your "incompetent" manager – another good reason to be diplomatic.
5. You're rude to the receptionist
It's not just the interviewer you have to impress. You are being assessed from the moment you set foot on the company's premises.
'If you are rude to the receptionist, glare at other candidates who may be waiting or kick up a fuss during any pre-interview tests then you can be assured that this will be fed back to the interview panel – and it will scupper your chances,' warns Corinne.
'After all, why would they want to hire someone – even if you gave a great interview – who has already shown themselves to be rude or disruptive?'
6. You're boring
Sometimes, a candidate can seem ideal on paper but there's no spark. This can happen because you haven't built rapport or didn't show enough enthusiasm for the job – or because you were boring.
'If you simply repeat information that's already in your CV, what you say can seem dull and predictable,' warns John. Make sure you have something interesting to say and don't waffle. John's advice is to practise compressing evidence into short stories that are no more than three minutes long.
Watch the interviewer for clues - if they seem distracted or check their watch or the door, you may have been speaking too long.
'Candidates often say too much,' reflects John. 'Interviewers are initially bored if you drone on, but then find something negative in what you say. Besides, if you say too much you don't give the interviewer the chance to cover the full range of questions.'
7. You ask stupid questions
Asking inane questions such as "what exactly do you do here?" will undermine your credibility - at best, they demonstrate that you haven't bothered to do your homework.
John says, 'Ask questions about how the role will grow and develop, not queries you could have answered by spending two minutes with Google.'
It's a good idea to have some questions to ask prepared, but be flexible. You don't want to quiz them about something they have already covered during the interview.
Finally, if you make a mistake or nerves get the better of you, don't be afraid to admit it, take a deep breath and start over. Most interviewers aren't trying to trip you up and want you to do well.
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